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Bomb Squad - Diving blind

9 Bomb Diving Training squad cambodia

Unexploded bombs and landmines litter Cambodia’s waterways, posing a hazard to local fishermen. Now, a team of bomb disposal divers is being formed to diffuse the problem. Charles Fox photographs the dive team in training

TOTAL DARKNESS

bomb diver mask cambodia rivers

A diver wears a blacked out mask to mimic the zero-visibility conditions found in most of Cambodia’s rivers. This training aid not only helps deal with near zero visiblity but also trains the divers brain to determine bomb shapes and texture by touch. 

Float like a butterfly...

1 bomb diving training cambodia koh rong

Dara, 23, performs butterfly kicks in the surf of Koh Rong, Cambodia. Having worked clearing landmines and unexploded ordinance for three years, he’s one of 14 trainee divers who will become the first underwater bomb disposal squad. The trainees need a high level of fitness to be able to work in harsh environments, which include strong river currents.


Search skills

2 dive data logging bomb difusal cambodia

Data on each diver’s depth and time are collected post-dive.

YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

Divers are spun until dizzy to condition them to handle disorientation.

3 Beach Training bomb difusal cambodiaOn the beach, trainees practice search techniques with a circular line – in each rotation they widen the search perimeter.

5 Dizzy Training bomb difusal cambodia

Heng Sambo, 37, falls into the surf during an exercise where the divers are spun until dizzy to condition them to handle disorientation.

 

TEAM LEADERS KEEP TRACK

A team leader keeps track of the search pattern as well as depths and times.

6 DIVE Notepad bomb disposal cambodia

 

Bombs in the dark

A diver in a blacked out mask locates a fake bomb. 

8 First Dive Underwater bomb disposal cambodia

Recently, a lucrative trade in scrap metal has sprung up and some fishermen have taken to retrieving bombs from rivers and removing the explosives by hand – with much danger to themselves and those around them.

 

9 Bomb Diving Training disposal cambodia

 

First training dive

An inert bomb, used for training.

8 Inert Bomb disposal Training cambodia

Lorn Sarath, 24, enters the water for the first dive of the course; A diver guided by a rope surfaces after a blackout dive.

10 Blackout Dive Training disposal cambodia

It’s thought there are 4-6 million landmines and unexploded bombs in Cambodia. Although the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has been running a clean-up operation since the 1990s, estimates predict it will be another 10-20 years before it is complete.

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